(x) Days of Photography — Thumb-sucker
(X) DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY is a flash fiction/photography collaboration with David Maney of Jotter Notes. This is Day Five.
The fisherman’s bucket had drawn the shrieking gulls far out to sea.
Our cat’s gentleman murderer had come up to the deck from the car berth and was taking whatever pleasure came from his cigarette.
She had mewed at the car window when he locked up his black sedan, and rather than outright submission, he had opened the driver-side door and wound down the window and slammed the door with her still inside.
Looking at him now, flicking the last half of his unsmoked cigarette into the sea, she thought he seemed resigned to his anger, or at least out of energy to express it.
The cat rather fancied herself as a crime-writer, as cats are rather fond of ignoring the ignorant and the obvious and seem, to some, at least, like criminal’s in disguise.
Last night, before he had turned the corner sharply and gone out of sight, his walk was straight-legged and direct and his face strained to show calm. When he came back into view a few minutes later he rounded the corner like a drunk; sure of the way home, but not sure of his steps; feigning sobriety as not to be noticed by passing patrols. There was an economy of emotion in his face that stayed with him, now, as he looked at the sea passing slowly below; his face held together by stubble, which showed up salt, pepper and ginger in the first light. The fingers of his right hand still bent in the same position to hold the cigarette he had just thrown away. In the other hand he held the piece of paper he had been given the night before.
He pushed off the railing and walked over to the pay phone booths.
Down the railing an old fisherman was gingerly bending backwards in the back-swing of his cast.
The cat watched the young boy next to the old man’s hip sucking his thumb. A bad habit, thought the cat.
Her gentleman murderer was waiting for a phone.
She returned her gaze to the thumb-sucker to see he had removed it from his mouth and it was teeming blood from a small, deep cut. The thumb-sucker laughed in delight as he squeezed more blood from the cut.
She walked over to her gentleman caller. He had just dialed the number. He looked down at her and whispered, ‘Ssh, Charlotte.’ It sounded nice to have a name, she thought, but this was not her name.
‘Why do fish want worms if worms don’t live in the sea?’ said thumb-sucker.
A stupid question that only a boy would ask, thought the cat. But she did not have time to contemplate desire as she wanted to hear her gentleman caller’s side of the conversation.
He spoke slowly at first and then not at all for a few minutes. Every now and then he licked the inside of his cheeks, but never opened his mouth in anticipation of speaking. With the gulls and sea and the old fisherman telling off the thumb-sucker she couldn’t be sure there was another side to the conversation.
Thumb-sucker came over and picked up the phone in the booth opposite. Her gentleman caller could see him and his blood-stained grin and dead front tooth through the plexi-glass.
‘Okay’, said her gentleman, clear and succinct.
‘Hello!’ said thumb-sucker.
‘That’s the name.’
‘He hooked me, see.’
Thumb-sucker tasted his thumb, ‘Yum-my!’
‘Can I have a taste?’ said her gentleman.
And thumb-sucker hung up.
(to be continued)